The Greatest Athlete (You’ve Never Heard Of)


Canada's first Olympic gold medallist couldn't walk until he was ten, and became the greatest runner of his generation.

Paralyzed as a child, George Washington Orton eventually recovered, and never slowed down again, winning Canada’s first gold medal in the 2,500-metre steeplechase at the 1900 Paris Olympics. Beyond that, he was a teacher, coach, author, and member of the American Academy of Poets. A brilliant scholar, he could understand twelve languages and was fluent in nine.

Orton was a sports pioneer in other ways, introducing the idea of numbered football jerseys, and bringing hockey to Philadelphia, where he formed the first league and built the first indoor arena. Orton is enshrined in seven Halls of Fame — all of them posthumously.

About the Author

Mark Hebscher

Posted by KathrynB on May 8, 2018
Mark Hebscher photo

Mark Hebscher

Mark Hebscher is a long-time broadcaster and journalist, best known for his work on the ground-breaking TV show Sportsline on Global Television. Mark has interviewed thousands of people from the world of sports, entertainment, business, and politics. He lives in Toronto.